Experts provide options for hay feed
Many resources open for ranchers after wet spring, summer
Due to persistent rains early this year, followed by severe flooding in July, Barry County farmers encountered a crisis with hay production, as much of it was baled late, washed away by flooding or contaminated due to excessive moisture.
As a result, ranchers are now in the position of finding quality hay to feed their livestock over the winter and have an added expense they were not planning on.
"The hay quality is marginal," said Eldon Cole, University of Missouri livestock specialist for the southwest Missouri region. "In places where you might have had flooding, and if they had some bales out there, they maybe had some washed away. I know I had one incidence where a fellow told me about where he lost some hay. But, for the most part, when they start counting up bales compared to other hays, I think we may have enough basic hay to start with. But, we may need to supplement."
To find supplemental forage, ranchers can look to the Missouri Department of Agriculture, which provides a hay directory at https://agmarketnews.mo.gov/hay-directory. Ranchers without Internet access may call Mark Murphy, manager of commodities, at 573-751-5633 for hay sources.
Another resource is the ag bulletin board or AgeBB (agricultural electronic bulletin board) on the University of Missouri Extension website. Farmers can go to http://extension.missouri.edu, type in AgeBB in the search box, click on AgeBB, then click on hay to find hay market listings.
Then, there is the good old-fashioned way of searching -- visiting feed stores, perusing bulletin boards and asking around.
"Feed stores are a good local source," Cole said. "Our biggest concern probably is [farmers] will have some hay but are probably going to need to supplement if they want to have good animal performance because of the lower quality of hay. What's good is there was lots of growth of our pastures this fall. We rely on stockpiled fescue for winter grazing, and we've got it out there along with other grasses that have grown well this fall.
"That is our blessing, and every cloud has a silver lining in it somewhere. We may not have as much good quality hay as some years, but we definitely have more grazing available. We have a lot of folks that would like to be able to graze their cattle until the first of February. That's the good thing about fescue -- it has the capability of maintaining pretty good quality into the winter. In November, December and January we will not have to feed so much hay as in dryer years, when we were short of pasture."